when we return
this day in 2008

both fun & worthwhile


As we all move closer to a new calendar year I've decided to start broadcasting some creative seeds.  Maybe something I share will find fertile ground in a way that compliments your own creative/ceremonial activities.  Please note that the featured project for this post was conceived and taught by Vanessa Oliver-Lloyd.   Her method for making and filling a pair of wheels to mark ongoing experiences throughout a calendar year served as a free introductory lesson for her year-long Rituals art journaling class.  You can learn more about my creative immersion in this project via an introductory post I wrote for my main blog or by clicking on the alchemical rituals category link in the sidebar here.  Have recently decided to make a similar pair of wheels for the year 2020.  I'm going to use the same size and brand of journal so it will be a literal as well as intentional companion volume to EarthStar Alchemical Rituals. 


The teaching video for my 2018 endeavor featured Vanessa creating two 12-spoked wheels with rapid inky brush strokes.  My wheel on the left, above, embodies her specific guidance generously layered with my own notions and instincts focused on actively building an energetic year-long plan for myself BOOM all within a single art-date at my work desk. Before that, however, I thought about the project both actively and in a more passive "this is also happening" sort of way for about a week.  

note: participants were further encouraged to pick a word for the upcoming year based on individual intuition/introspective wisdom.  I'd already been chosen by this word for 2018 a few weeks before I impulsively decided Rituals would be a positive and grounding experience for me.  STRONGHOLD.  I really liked the way the word held space as a caption below the wheel on the left. Next I created a  phrase to caption the wheel on the right so the overall page design looked more balanced.  My plan was to collage free-cut branches, leaves and flowers from paper scraps.  In my mind's eye I envisioned the barest whisper of wreath-like suggestions encircling each wheel.  Something simple, to allow the wheels themselves to do most of the talking.


This was ... fun to begin constructing but I could see if I kept going with a doggedly simple evenly spaced ring of decoration it wasn't going to feel or look nearly quirky/authentically self-expressive enough.  Didn't have to think about that at all but simply decided on the spot I'd go for broke in foreshadowing Persephone in Queen of the Flowers mode.  Having quite a plentitude of flower/gardening magazines and scads of seed catalogs available for cutting and pasting, I sensed I'd have no problem randomly collaging flower images throughout the year.  Given Ritual's over-arching theme of promoting high quality ceremony infused self-relationship I further decided to save these specific mini collage sessions for moments when what I needed most was a 15 minute time-out in which to revitalize and flow my way back to a stabilized center of personal gravity.  The few remaining blank spaces will be filled in such a way - when and as





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grace Maestas

no longer have materials for paper collage...wish i did


that's easily fixed if you will allow. Without any of my trademark overwhelm potential. a simple ziplock sandwich bag can hold a lot of fodder. Can you work with glue sticks? They are also easy and simple/small to store. Plus if Emrie gets them somehow it will not be as disastrous as wet glue and is also non-toxic. Am good at/hugely enjoy catering to what I know of somebody's aesthetics and subject matter preferences. If you only have thread/cloth snips I can help with that as well. I have tiny scissors that I used to cut herbs from the container culinary garden. Jim didn't realize and used them on paper for several days before I saw. Am picky about ONLY plant matter being cut with plant only blades. So now the scissors just sit there waiting for me to find a useful purpose for them. The blades are stained some with layers of herb alkaloids but that may add flair and panache to the overall experience.

The older I get the more I feel like everybody so inclined should have access to collage materials Just Because they should. Think it's kind of the way you feel ALL should experience and incorporate invisible basting stitch. For much the same reasons, actually.

I CAN DEFINITELY FIX YOU UP so the footprint/storage factor is super-minor. just say the word.

grace Maestas

it's just cement mind set. Reading this...small bag full.....
I don't need to have piles of old magazines and folders of collected images.
i can have a ziplock.
and a glue stick...what a novel thought!
funny how we get stuck facing a corner of an old wall that no longer exists.

Why do you think it is that the older you get has made some difference? Am interested
in this thought

grace Maestas

thought goes on....have been thinking about when in January some time
the 6 year old granddaughter is coming...my son...from Colorado.
They will mostly spend time at an AirBnB ...my ex and his wife, my kids here, and
i'm not much for going places like LegoLand.
What might have meaning to this young one? Who sees this old Goat gramma once a year?
THIS. Perfect for this EverythingTable, for short and often interrupted Doings...and
maybe even something that we can continue to do "together", when she's off again
in Colorado...send each other pics of our Work via this machine....
LOVE you Acey


YES. to everything your shifted "this is how collage-making works" mentality has put into place as a relevant upgrade to whatever got 'cornered' previously. Have built entire program proposals on fostering grandparent-grandchild/long distance connections based on glue books and also a cluster of simple projects that work best for those young'uns you see on the regular, like Julian and Emrie. The beautiful memories jar project would be PERFECT for you three, with January grand-daughter also participating - perhaps if she likes it having support/help creating one of her own involving her family there as well.

I'll devise a post sometime soon-ish.

*Cannot* for the life of me imagine you at lego-land based just on what i know if it and never having been. It's like trying to picture myself in Vegas.

I think "the older I get" is significant to the conclusion I've drawn only in that it's given me more confidence and certainty in making the assertion like it's a valid Thing. Time and again I've seen how significant/liberating collage can be for those who simply aren't going to risk "failure" at something that represents often daunting investments of time and money. Add to which people who simply want to kick back and have fun after a long not-fun day aren't likely to embrace the unglamorous repetitive woodshedding involved with gaining viable skill sets in whatever creative arts they're pre-convinced they have no abilities worth exploring anyway. But sticking one piece of paper to another is something everyone has done if only inadvertently It's something anyone can grasp at the mechanical/technique level. Sticking things together *on purpose* as an actively cultivated activity opens doors a lot of people never would have thought to seek out for themselves.

The incredulous JOY to produce a Whole Thing from disparate snippets and scraps. To understand more personally what "limitless" could mean even within an inherently limited frame of time/space/money. People do hesitate at first. They showed up because something about the idea drew them in. And their eyes look expectant but nonetheless they assume they don't know what they're doing and that means they can't possibly learn. They hesitate only until I give them a cue anyone can follow effortleslys: "look at just the pile closest to your workspace and pull out five or six thing that make your eyes happy." aaaaand we're off.

Hesitation gives way to spontaneously swapping pile-to-pile. And growing comfortable enough to share (never 'lead' in this sort of way) various ingrained longings to make something entirely from scratch. From just whatever was lying around. And yet. They knew it was impossible for *them* to do it. Because it was a sibling or cousin or next door neighbor who was actually *talented* at that kind of project.

If it's the right kind of crowd & setting I *will* at this juncture occasionally lead the way in a group exchange of jr. high/high school art class horror stories. We were each told we Couldn't and the particular - if chronically scanty - evidence supporting the idea screamed of our Untalented-ness loud and clear. And so we embraced it. As that dawns - that it wasn't, ever, Just Us wishing we had what it took to make something lovely - the collective Unspoken *I can't* slowly but surely morphs into a whole inter-connected yet separate transist systems full of individualized versions of *what if I tried x, y, z.*

It's entirely magical to watch the lights go on. And to feel the way our group energy rises so that everyone feeds on the high quality exchanges we're all making with ourselves and each other. Conversations trail to a collectively humming silence as internalized gears turn differently for sure. Unknown and yet no longer unfathomable. It is, after all, just paper attached to other paper. And yet it is a universe unfolding. Somehow within an hour and a half *I can't* has transformed to that most delicious phrase evocative of ongoing creative awakening *What if*.

Everyone everywhere SHOULD have access to personally learning how easily such a thing *can* work and collage drives the point home clearly and quickly.

At that point: "Ohhhh. I get to decide everything that's going to happen here" replaces "I have no idea what I'm doing". Because once that silence of immersive concentration falls they're each (and collectively) learning something they hadn't dared to wish could happen previously. Not for *them*. But suddenly the first most hyper-certain layers of their Untalented narrative begin to de-solve themselves. As their hands shape and shift what's before them it's possible to feel the flares of internalized awakening: I don't have to be skilled in advance I just have to be willing to find out what makes *my* eyes happy. What *I* find beautiful. What *my* eye defines as cool and slick and entirely modern even if I don't know a lot or anything at all about what that means past my own eye's preferences. What it would be like to saturate my eyes in this color I adore but cannot wear (or a family member hates as a paint/decorating color)"

And it's all leading to: "OH. I don't *have* to know anything at all beyond my own eye's preferences. Not right now. This is for me and my eyes. This is something *I'm* doing with my own eyes and hands. OKAY." Night and day point of view shift in, door to door, under two hours.

*In under two hours* - a progression of experiential shifts that lead to understanding the Untalented corner does not contain you anymore. Not as it used to - as a kind of prison sentence. And from there, after a few satisfying projects, grasping the basics of a personal style that was totally illusive until you started doing this thing that is neither costly nor messy and fits into your life so well you start forgetting what you used to do with yourself before This Thing.

At the beginning of a ten month program at my local library year before last i asked the assembled Ladies of a Certain Age, "who believes they aren't very creative?" All but one person raised their hand. Of that group one called out rather merrily, "I'm not creative AT ALL!"

And yet. By the end of that evening they'd all created a handsewn book from a variety of papers. And begun filling the pages with whatever they could find on the table before them. By the sixth session every single participant was referring to what they were making and had cumulatively produced as "my work". As opposed to "this thing" or "whatever this is" that many spoke of in the first two or three sessions. By the last session, a woman who lived alone (and confided she now woke up each day thinking WHY NOT) had transformed half of her dining room table "and beyond" into a paper crafting oasis. In strong contrast: during the first session's initial half-hour she was enormously preoccupied with which direction I'd like them to face "for ongoing instructions". Because I kept moving around. Shifting and redistributing paper, paper everywhere.

Not sure if these remarks supplies a frame for the interest my earlier comment sparked. Just as random examples and not too much organized thoughts-on-the-thought.

grace Maestas

well....so the answer is....Things i have seen with my own eyes. What i have witnessed.

but, as i knew it would be, so much more and i knew you would Give
the so much more. And you have.
This Whole Telling is Excellent beyond Excellent and gives such Energy for Who Knows What

Liz A

I keep coming back to this post ... and now the comments ... love the idea of a memory jar and look forward to hearing your take on it ... and I would so love to sit around the table with you for ten months ... maybe we could do it through the ether ...


Liz - I'll use my own beautiful memory jar and a few in-progress examples of how I make the cards in order to prepare an old school step-out tutorial.

It would be great fun to figure out some kind of ether-based collage along. I'd gladly come up with some glue-booking project step-outs. It would also be quite a blast to get into some playful fiber collage projects with folks who enjoy (nay NEED TO BE) stitching. In the library workshop we glued fabric onto birch board panels which is also a lot of fun - especially if tailoring the projects as a togetherness venture most inclusive for those others who aren't stitchers.

Let's begin somewhere concrete and satisfyingly simple - with the beautiful memories jar. Will try to get it sorted in time to encourage making up a few collaged card sheets with relatives over the upcoming holiday. It all works best when they press under heavy books for a few weeks so the unveiling of the laminated sheets, and then cutting them into individual cards, could become a follow-up activity during any time spent together during Christmas and New Year's. In the class we decorated the jars/made the cards during the first week of December. Everyone LOVED the idea of slowing down just then in order to create something meant to be just the beginning of a fresh positivity-based habit.

Gotta say - it would be GREAT to have a monthly table with the group assembling here in the ethers. I smile just thinking about what it might be like. No shortage of excellent stories very well told, I'd wager. Plenty of laughing. And hugs to begin and conclude for all so inclined.

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